I’ve been interested in Splatoon ever since it was first unveiled during last year’s E3, as the title looked promising. Between following any revealed news game and playing the first Global Testfire, despite the lack of voice chat, my anticipation for the title has grown tremendously.
When players first launch the game, you will be prompted to create and customize your Squid, such as changing their eye colors and skin color. Their hair color changes depending on the team your Squid represents, so that’s not player-customizable.
Once you created your character, you’ll be sent to Inkopollis, which is the game’s main hub where you can access stores and the game modes by walking to their hubs or selecting them via the Gamepad.
Hero Mode, which is the game’s Story Mode, involves the player donning the Hero Suit and venturing into Octo Valley to rescue Inkopolis’ stolen Zapfish and defeat the Octarians.
Hero Mode features various puzzle mechanics and 3D-platforming elements and, of course, splattering Ink to defeat enemies. However, you may only use the Splattershot in this mode. You will be able to use the Splat Bombs, Burst Bombs and Seekers only as side weapons.
Story Mode was really fun to play through; while the plot itself was nothing spectacular, the levels had nice designs and each boss battle was unique. Sadly, the mode is really short but since the game features hidden collectibles, you will be spending more time in the mode, possibly replaying some levels.
I really enjoyed playing through Hero Mode since the main objective is way different than the game’s multiplayer modes. Considering how often you have to beat the Octolings, the Octarian equivalent to an Inkling, it made me realize how much a Team Deathmatch would work for this game as well.
The game has a local 2-player mode called “Battle Dojo”: both players must attempt to pop balloons to reach 30 points. If the timer runs out before one player has reached 30 points, whoever has the most wins. While one play will be using the Gamepad, the other will be using a separate controller.
After selecting the mode, each player will choose their set of clothing and weapon. What I dislike is that the first player is forced to be the male squid and the second player is forced to be the female squid, instead of giving players the option to choose the gender of their preference. Additionally, five stages will be available to choose from.
Battle Dojo is a fun mode, but it can get old pretty fast if it isn’t played with competent players. The mode would be much better as well if it was included in the online multiplayer portion of the game since a lot of us may not have the luxury to play local, and it’s a good mode to test your skills as an individual player.
Through Battle Dojo, I got the chance to play with the Wii U Pro Controller and the Classic Controller Pro, which I believe are excellent options to use. Sadly, these controllers are exclusive to this mode.
When using the Gamepad, you will have the options to choose between using the Right stick or Gyroscope for your aiming. While using Gyroscope is actually not bad, I felt more comfortable using a classic layout.
Of course, the main focuses of this title are its multiplayer modes, which for now consist of Turf War for Player Matches and Splat Zones for Ranked matches, and will open up once you reach Level 10. For every game that you play, whether you win or lose, you will gain experience points that will push you to a higher level. Naturally, by winning you level up faster.
Leveling up is important in this game, especially if you want access to new and better gear. You will be able to customize your Squid with a pair of shoes, a shirt, hats and weapons. To be able to buy gear, you must reach Level 4 first, which is reasonable.
The objective of Turf War, which consists of four players in two teams, is to attempt to splatter your ink around the arena while avoiding enemy shots along the way. Whoever covered the most of the stage with their team’s ink wins.
There will be areas that you will be able to splatter but will not count towards your ink count, such as walls. However, they can be used to your advantage since it allows you to climb walls to take a higher altitude. Players that like to use the Sniper-esque weapons will benefit from climbing walls.
Even though Turf War is labeled as a casual mode, matches can get pretty intense when playing with competent players. There will be times were you will be taking the lead by a large margin but the opposition can catch up in mere moments.
As for Splat Zones, it’s similar to King of the Hill and consists of covering a section of the map with their ink. Depending on the stage, there will either be multiple sections or only one section to cover. The win objective is to hold the zone for 100 seconds or whichever team has the least amount of time left holding it before the end of the match.
However, if the opposite team disrupts your zone domination, 60 seconds will be added to your timer which means that you will have to hold the zone for 60 seconds to make your real timer go down.
Depending on how competent your team is, Splat Zones can either be fun or frustrating. There will be times where the match can end in literally 100 seconds, which happened to me one time. Overall, I really enjoyed the mode since it requires the most strategy as well as a good combination of offensive and defensive skills.
Using the Wii U Gamepad’s touch screen, you will be able to see the map and the game’s progress during Turf War. It can also be used to spawn back to the main point or jump next to a teammate.
While the main point of the game is to “Splat,” I greatly enjoyed the battle mechanics of the game most. There were moments that an opponent of the opposite team and I went “one on one” while still focusing on the main goal of the game.
The feeling of beating them or retaliating against their attacks really feels good, which is why Turf Wars was my favored mode. I still believe, however, that a “Team Deathmatch” mode is doable.
Like many other players the lack of voice chat, especially with the reasons given why, really upset me. Although each match is just a couple of minutes long, voice chat can easily add another layer of strategy and add even more playability and value.
In some scenarios, my teammates and I were unaware of the location of the opponents and suffered from being attack from the back. I needed to tell them (and probably vice-versa) to watch out, but with the lack of voice chat, it wasn’t possible.
Making a plan is important too, but without actual communication it’s quite impossible. It’s a waste of time if two or more players go to cover the same area when the goal of the mode is to cover the entire stage. Luckily, this issue doesn’t occur often once people get more experienced with the game.
Voice chat is even more imperative in a mode like Splat Zones, which is ranked based. Like previously stated, when losing in ranked it affects your ranking negatively. Since the mode is similar to King of the Hill, it requires a lot of communication and cooperation among teammates.
Even if the mode had voice chat, it is clear that the higher skilled players will win the match; being able to strategize would give other teams a fighting chance, as well as strengthen the teamwork of the stronger players (which .
The game also features a minigame while you wait in the lobby for matches called “Squid Jump.” While no one likes waiting too long to start up a game, the minigame was so much fun that it made waiting worth it. I truly believe it needs a standalone release for 3DS.
Playing through Splatoon felt smooth and that’s because the game is running at a dreamy and stable 60 frames per second. While it isn’t a shooter per say, the game really benefits from the smooth performance.
Despite the lack of content at launch, the title is incredibly fun. Even if there are only two modes available so far, the gameplay is so unique that a purchase is worthwhile. I do believe it could have more potential if it included voice chat or an extra mode or two at launch, but past that, Splatoon has the kind of longevity that will keep me playing for a long time.